I had my 6-month dental check-up today and a young girl dressed in sneakers and blue eyeliner, visibly shaking, informed me my hygienist was on vacation and she was subbing. Okay, "visibly shaking" might be a stretch but she was nervous. Her opening chit-chat was a bit forced although she overcame this after a bit and told me funny stories she and her friends used to pull on one another in dental school (such as eating a bowl full of M&M's before a friend worked on your teeth).
Having her there made me appreciate the casual professionalism of my regular hygienist though. It's not that this girl did anything wrong. It was more that we were both just very aware of what she was doing.
"Doing okay?" she asked as the sharp pointy thing she was poking between my gums slipped a notch and almost took off my tongue.
"Ang-uh," I said.
"Oh good!" she replied. "Now I'm going to use this mirror to move your tongue to the side. Let me know if you feel a gagging sensation. I had a second grader throw up on me not too long ago because of this very thing."
It was a very loooong appointment.
My mouth hurt when it was over. Not sure why as she really didn't do anything to hurt me. Maybe an extra poke or two where they shouldn't have been but nothing drastic. But I am much more appreciate now of hygienists. There is a skill in learning how to get to all the odd angles of a person's mouth without flattening their hair or taking out an eye. And maintaining a running chatter while scraping plague off teeth is an art form almost to be considered lost.
I liked this girl though and hope she does well. Everyone has to start somewhere.